Project I (2005) was a youth media program, directed by the curatorial team of Art Center Nabi and executed for the entire year, to create a democratic mode of communication between art institutions and specific community members. The primary purpose of this project was to give equal accessibility of new media to alienated youth in deprived urban areas in Seoul and let the youth have authority in media production. I was in charge of directing all the process from the six-month workshops to the final exhibition presenting the outputs of the workshops. Including myself, the curatorial team believed that having the youth technologically literate and giving them an opportunity to step into art institutional relations would be one way to make them communicate with the outer world as empowered cultural subjects.
The participants of the Project I workshops were 51 youths who lived in deprived areas such as Bongchun, Sungnam, Ansan, Incheon, Yongin, as well as 13 contemporary artists. These selected areas had been alienated by the government’s urban development plan.Two artists were designated to each area, and they started planning on creating a collective work with the youths, depending on different needs of different sites. Like many involved in community based site-specific works, the artists in Project I tried to create situations that allowed the community youths to actively participate in this collective project. They were guides/team leaders or coordinators of the project, rather than aesthetic subjects who create completed art objects. Through numerous visits to the site, the artists put forth a great deal of effort to become integrated in the community as its members. In this process, Art Center Nabi limited its role to a coordinator or manger of the project and let the community decide what to do for their own neighborhood. To some extent, however, in so far an art institution was involved, the project did not escape institutionalization (or colonization in Hal Foster’s sense) over the community.